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Opposition dissatisfied with government's review of Bernard Lodge development

Dr. Peter Phillips
 
Opposition Leader Dr. Peter Phillips has expressed dissatisfaction with the government's review of the Bernard Lodge development in St. Catherine. 
 
Dr. Phillips, who toured the area Thursday afternoon, wants details of the review made public.
 
These include the terms of reference of the review and the names of the persons who conducted the review.
 
Prime Minister Andrew Holness last month said reports so far out of  the review suggest farming will not be affected by the project.
 
However, Dr. Phillips said effort must be made to address the concerns of farmers, environmentalists and other stakeholders. 
 
Furthermore, he said there are questions surrounding the transparency of the procurement process involving the Bernard Lodge lands. 
 
"You had farmers, many of whom had formal leases, some of whom had not yet completed the process, as I understand it, who have been moved. But there was no open, general tender or offer of the lands that was made that anybody who was interested could have applied for it," he pointed out. 
 
"The second question that needs to be answered which is very, very profound is why would the country as a whole be asked to give up hundreds of billions of dollars of infrastructure in irrigation that has been put down here and maintained by successive governments?" he added.  
 
Mr. Holness has said Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of  Economic Growth and Job Creation, Daryl Vaz, has been asked to prepare a full report to be released to the public. 
 
The Bernard Lodge development is expected to accommodate more than 17,000 homes, commercial and ­industrial buildings as well as recreational facilities.
 
However, Dr. Phillips is not convinced that Bernard Lodge is a suitable location for the development because the area is flood-prone.
 
Food security 
 
Dr. Phillips is also concerned about the possible impact on Jamaica's food security. 
 
He noted that in the second quarter of this year, Jamaica's food import bill, as compared with the same period last year, increased by 18 per cent as the country struggles with a shortage of eggs, chicken meat, onions, vegetables and other food items. 
 
He argued that while many farmers in Bernard Lodge have been trying to produce crops to directly feed the country, development in the area would disrupt this.
 


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